Wednesday, January 15, 2014

The Survivor Tree

Ever have one of those moments where you're overwhelmed by something that speaks to what I call your rightness in the universe?   I sounds very Shirley McClain, but as I begin to slow down and pay attention to the richness of moments, I begin to notice things I may have not noticed before.   Today, at our visit to the Oklahoma City Memorial, I was seized by one of such moments.

Being a survivor of trauma, and visiting a place which embodies the meaning of trauma, I was overcome by emotion as I sat below the  Survivor Tree.   After withstanding  the blast of the bombing in 1995 and burning for several days, this tree still stands as a symbol of human resilience, hope, and rebirth.   Despite the 4,000 lb. bomb which killed 168 people and injured hundreds, the tree continued to struggle for survival.  With the help of the community, the health of the tree began to improve.  Seeds were taken and seedlings were grown.  The Survivor Tree has re-birthed hundreds of offspring which serve as reminders of the undeniable life force within us.  

The tree continues to thrive....

  As I began to think of a theme for this blog, I scoured the Internet for images depicting hope and resilience, with a particular focus on the limb, as this has been an element of my grieving and my striving for acceptance.  Sadly, no image emerged which seemed to fit.    Today as I sat below the tree and looked up, I found it. 

There is life after loss.   The life-force within us propels us to press on and to nurture each other as we grow.

Survivors of all types....we know this.  The moving on is bittersweet, but it is ripe with possibility.  Having risen from the ashes, like this tree, we just keep going.....reaching for the sky

As I move forward in my journey with limb loss, I look toward a future of possibility, and a chance to share my passion for adventure with others with disabilities.   When faced with significant life-challenges, we can shrink back from life, wither away, or embrace our challenges as unique opportunities for connection.   Herein lies my passion.....harnessing hope and connection, and finding meaning in shared life-enhancing experience.  How cool is that?

(NOTE:  I will do an update on my medical stuff soon!  Just needed to get this post out first....the timing was right.)


  1. eyes are filled with tears and my heart is filled with inspiration and awe. I don't usually post or comment on your updates, although I've read every one of them. I'm never quite sure what to say... Today I am inspired to "say something" :)

    You are an amazing and strong woman, thank you for sharing your journey. You are truly an inspiration. I wish you (and your family) a fast, successful and super fun recovery. I cannot wait to see where this next chapter takes you, and I can't wait to see you out climbing again :)

    Sending you love and good vibes,
    Kim Sue from Adventure Rock

    1. Kim, thank you so much! I soooo can't wait to get back to the gym. (Although I'm sure I'll need to do a lot of re-learning stuff.) I'm SUPER excited about helping to get an adaptive climbing program started at the gym. I've sat down w/ Eric and Craig and we talked about how to make this happen....since then we've gotten a lot of buy-in from the community, including the VA. SO.....we're hoping to get the folks from Paradox Sports out for an adaptive climbing clinic / training (still need to chat about details.) I'm sure we'll need lots of help.....lemme (or the guys) know if you're interested!

      Hey, good luck at Q on the D. :) See you soon.....

  2. Chris, I have very few words as well, Although my tears and my heavy heart is with you. I have read your posts, and recognize your natural ability to orally process. Thinking about you.

    Wishing you a safe recovery:)

    Rob Fischer

    1. Thank you, Rob! It won't be long and I'll be running around again. Don't worry! (BTW, my sister and her partner Robin made a beautiful cake for me.....with legs sticking out of it. Our family is a bunch of sickos.)

  3. Dearest Chris. I jhope we can soon suck some wine together but fear you will be on meds that prevent that for awhile. Hey, you can take your good meds (they probably have a great street value) and I'll suck wine for both of us and we can laugh together and hug. We can even cry together. Everyone at LCUUC misses you so much.

    1. Lol....yeah Fran, I tried one sip of Scott's beer yesterday and felt it right away (I was sip!) Not really liking the pain meds, but at least they keep me laying low. When this recovery period is over with....I'd love to suck some wine! We're talking about Sunday....may show up, depending how I'm feeling. Miss you guys too!

  4. Hi Chris, we can only repeat what has already been said. Your fortitude and positive handling of the situation are very inspirational and heartwarming. Thanks so much for sharing your journey and the insights into your thought processes. Our best wishes to you and Greg in the adventure ahead of you. Gute Verbesserung und viel Gluck!! Mary and Meredith Cullen

  5. Hi Chris!
    I am so loving reading your posts! You are a gifted blogger with your ability to document your exact thoughts and experiences. You have the ability to have us followers feel as though we are experiencing these moments with you. I don't have a doubt in my mind that you will find a way to get back to the active lifestyle you were accustomed to AND establish the program you are working on for other amputees. As I look at the photo of you sans foot, it does look almost surreal, but not impossible, because I believe in your success. I look forward to the day (soon!) that we can re-connect in our backyards and let the kids run crazy while we catch up. Continuing to pray for a speedy and (as pain-free as possible) recovery!

  6. Thank you, DZ! Hey, I keep meaning to call you....then I get side tracked (not hard to do on pain meds) By spring / summer I should be up and about, so your idea sounds great!